Background. This article is an institutional retrospective review of incidents involving aspiration and ingestion of dental foreign objects at a large multidisciplinary dental educational facility. It was undertaken to determine which dental procedures were more likely to involve aspiration or ingestion, as well as to evaluate the outcome of these adverse incidents. Methods. The inclusion criteria involved all patients who were documented to have experienced loss of dental instruments or material behind the posterior pharynx during a 10-year consecutive period. The dental and medical records of these patients were analyzed, and the outcomes of the adverse events fell into three categories: aspiration, ingestion, or neither aspirated nor ingested. The authors also noted the type of dental instrument and the specialty or area of dentistry in which this event occurred. Results. There were 36 documented cases. Twenty-five of these were instances of ingestion and one was an aspiration. In 10 cases, aspiration and ingestion were ruled out through radiographic examination or the object was retrieved from the patient's mouth. Conclusions. Fixed prosthodontic therapy had the highest number of incidents of adverse outcomes. Ingestion was a more prevalent outcome than aspiration. Dental procedures involving single-tooth cast or prefabricated restorations involving cementation have a higher likelihood of aspiration. Clinical Implications. The implications for clinical practice include the recognition of risk that dental therapy demands in regard to the airway and posterior pharynx, documentation and follow-up of adverse outcomes, and the use of preventive measures such as rubber dams or gauze throat screens or floss ligatures.
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